Skip to main content

Never Again

Whats been happening down my plots since my long lost last blog post (on Sunday 8th September)?? Quite a lot really, but double digging over most of Plot N2, I thought was too boring to create a post about. Most other things down the plots recently, apart from harvesting, have been neglected in favour of the digging, so I have some catching up to do before the onset of Winter. The compacted and parched soil where my main crop Potatoes were growing was re-dug down to the grey clay and broken down by spade which took me approximately 5 weeks to complete. (Better than the 5 months it took over last Winter). Then I returned to the task of clearing bed number 2 which was infested with mainly Dandelions, Docks, Clover and Creeping Buttercups along with many annual weeds. N2 Plot was the penultimate plot to be created in 2009 from old meadow/farm land which had been untended for 30 or so years before then. Needless to say double digging would have been easier to do, using a J.C.B. rather than a garden spade. From 2009 until the end of 2011 cultivation on N2 Plot had consisted of rotavating only, without the ground being cleared beforehand. So all in all I am the first person to actually dig it in almost 40 years, possibly longer.

The sub-soil was well compacted and below that, heavy grey almost white clay was evident. As I turned the soil and broke up the sub-soil, the grey clay underneath was loosened down by about 4 inches (10cm), before the next batch of mixed soil/sub-soil was dug away, along the length of the bed and deposited onto the top of it. Due to the vast amount of time the double digging was taking, I decide not to add compost/manure to the trenches at this stage but to add compost after the digging was finished and rotavate it into the soil, again keeping the soil from compacting. The gritty/sandier top soil I had left over from my front garden project earlier this year was also added to the clay at the bottom of each trench to hopefully aid drainage. As of today approximately 3 meters by 1 and a half meters at the lower end of number 2 bed is still to be double dig. It has been totally exhausting work for the past 2 months and not a job I would recommend to anyone, especially if they are gardening on heavy clay. After number 2 bed has been dug I have 1 more task involving digging, which is to remove my Summer Raspberries from N1 Plot. After that I have promised myself that its rotavating only from now on, except for very minor digging jobs!!!

Almost Finished Digging Bed 2 N2 Plot
Double Digging Bed 2 N2 Plot Almost Finished 9th October 13
Double Digging 2 Bed N2 Plot
The Final Few Feet To Be Dug 9th October 13
Weeds & Roots from N2 Bed
1 Container of Six With Roots/Weeds From Bed 2. 9/Oct/13 (6 More Containers Were Filled With Stones From Bed 2)

 A SUMMERY OF 2013 DOWN THE PLOTS

 Mainly spent avoiding the extremely wet weather if I remember rightly. With the organizing, digging and weeding of N2 Plot being delayed by rain. Hip replacement 25th January.

Not much happening and recovering from my operation. Weather still wet and cold. Plots desolate, wet & windswept.

Early March was again affected by wet weather with only a little weeding done. Overwintering Japanese Onions were thinned out and the thinnings re-planted. Probably the best Onion crop I've had to date, for size, taste and keeping quality. Peas (Hurst greenshaft) sown N1 Plot despite the wet weather. A good crop of Peas although the later sowings were affected by the hot dry weather conditions causing the plants to dry out despite adequate watering (tap water). Later in the month the digging of the main bed on N2 Plot continued in between rain and hail showers but the ground was finally starting to dry out helped by some breezy weather.

By the 10th of April I had finished digging and clearing the weeds from the main bed on N2 Plot, 5 months after starting the task. Up until then the weather had been wet and cold with outside seed sowing/planting being delayed. Spring had finally arrived. Poly tunnel erected on N2 Plot. Its been a huge help so far. Onion sets (Sturion) (Snowball) were planted. Good crop of Sturion but Snowball did not like the later hot dry conditions and they don't seem to keep well, for me anyway. Parsnip seeds sown on N1 Plot (2 rows) of Tender and true, a few germinated after 2 months. 2 more rows sown with very few germinating. It's back to (Gladiator) next season. After the heavy rain earlier in the year by the end of April the lack of it was becoming apparent. Main crop (Desiree) Potatoes planted. An excellent overall crop with some massive tubers, despite the dry conditions. Enough to last until about June/July next year. Carrots sown (Early Nantes & Autumn King) Again a good all round crop with no Carrot fly this year. The Carrots sown into my barrels were slightly sweeter than the ones sown directly into the ground on N1 Plot. Runner beans and Sweetcorn sown into pots and kept inside the Poly tunnel. Both germinated with difficulty and the Runner beans took a long while to establish when planted out. Again this was due to the hot dry weather conditions although the Sweetcorn crop was excellent (Lark F1). Runner beans were of low quality with many plants not setting their beans for most of the year. After some rain in September things improved and the plants are still producing some good beans into October. (Scarlet Emporer & Enorma). Other roots were sown in April and all did well, although due to the amount of d.i.y. jobs this year successional sowings took a back seat. Late April saw me digging out my front lawn and old drive (70 square meters).

May
The lawn turf was transported to the plots by car (40 trips) along with the top soil and 50 plus old paving slabs, more trips, The soil, subsoil and rubble was dug out ready to have the new drive installed. The turf is now stacked in several raised beds I built at the lower end of N2 Plot and the soil has been added to the beds on N2 Plot as well as on top of the turf in the raised beds. More Carrots, Spring Onions, Beetroot and Cauliflowers are currently growing well in these beds. More dry weather here (with vastly varying weather conditions across the U.K.), watering down the plots was being done mainly in the evenings. Butternut squashes planted out and Watermelons sown into pots. An excellent crop of Butternut squashes harvested this week (October). The Water melons were harvested last week, (grown in pots) 3 small ones about the size of  baseballs were nice and sweet with one large specimen still in my kitchen. Next years sowings will be done earlier direct into the ground inside my poly tunnel. Water butts almost empty. First harvest of the year end of May, Overwintered Cabbage, Radish & Lettuce.

June
Repositioning & repairing the shed on N2 Plot took place. Potatoes flowering, Strawberries ripening. This years Strawberries (Cambridge Vigour) were average compared to last years crop, again mainly due to the months of dry hot weather. A good crop of Apples developing. Cucumbers outdoors in the ground not doing well. A good crop of pot grown ridge Cucumbers were harvested last month the others were dire. Raised beds constructed at the lower end of N2 Plot.

July
Mainly seed sowing & harvesting in July with an absolute mega harvest of currants, red, white & black. More d.i.y. After dismantling the compost heap at the top end of N2 Plot my poly tunnel was moved to where the heap had been. 1 more raised bed was constructed at the lower end of N2 Plot. Summer raspberries were poor this year. This was due to the wet weather early in the year causing Cucumber root rot to many of the plants. Some rain in July & the Parsnips had finally germinated (some).

August
More harvesting with Sweetcorn ripening beautifully. Some welcome rain this month gave a boost to many plants suffering from the long dry spell of weather. Runner beans still not developing well. Onions looking good. Chard excellent. More Carrots & French beans harvested, along with some Apples, Raspberries and Yard long beans. First sightings of Hover flies & Honey Bees 2nd week in August.

September
Lifted my main crop Potatoes (Desiree), excellent crop. More digging and double digging on N2 Plot. More harvesting. Grapes excellent both in quantity and quality. Outdoor Tomatoes still only ripening slowly but good size and quality. Runner beans finally producing some good beans late September.

October
Still double digging bed 2 on N2 Plot. Much tidying of both plots is still needed before Winter. Composting and manuring still to be done ready for next year.

Carrots Flyaway
A Nice Harvest of Carrots (Flyaway) 9/Oct/13
Successes:  Sweetcorn, Onions, Potatoes, Chard, Yard long beans, Currants, Grapes, Apples, Rhubarb, Swede, Turnips, Lettuce, Radish, Watermelon, Squashes, Pumpkins, Peas, Overwintered Cabbage, Spring onions, Carrots, Gooseberries, Autumn Raspberries, Beetroot, Savoy cabbage.

Failures:  Runner beans (partial failure), Pak-choi, Khol-rabi, Summer raspberries, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Parsnips, French climbing beans (partial failure), Outdoor cucumbers, Alpine strawberries, Early Cauliflowers, Successional sowing, accidentally reversing my car into the poly tunnel, too much digging, hot dry weather, not fixing a leak in my shed roof before the weather turned wet, too much d.i.y. and not enough gardening.

All in all another trying gardening year mainly thanks to the weather again.

There's always tomorrow!!!

Comments

  1. What are you trying to do, Rooko? Put people off allotmenteering completely?? You have put such a lot of hard graft into your plots this year. You need the Winter now, to give you a break! I hope all your efforts this year will result in especially good crops next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's next years crops I'm thinking about. If you had seen the mess N2 Plot was in last year I think you may have agreed that there was only 2 options with it, clear it out by hand or give it up. I don't quit that easily.

      Delete
  2. Poor old polytunnel - has it recovered. That digging looks to be seriously hard work. We were down in Somerset last week - if we had know we would have come to help :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The poly tunnel is ok thanks Sue, just a bent support in the back corner and no holes in it. If your in Somerset again drop in for a cuppa, my emails on the blog somewhere.

      Delete
  3. Oh Rooko - you're going to do yourself a mischief if you're not careful - you've only just got your hip sorted out - now you're digging like a navvy - give it a rest man - it's not worth all that slog just for a bucket of carrots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're probably right Elaine. The heavy digging is definitely finished for good now. The rest is enjoyable except when its raining of course.

      Delete

Post a Comment

You are welcome to leave a comment. All comments are moderated before they are posted. Thank you for reading my blog. Come back again soon, love, peace and tranquility to you and everyone in your life.

Popular posts from this blog

The Last Post

As my readers will already know I moved to a new house (bungalow) last year. Much work, updating, d. i. y. and a vast amount of gardening and landscaping needed doing to the property. Most of the gardening to the rear of the property has now been completed just as the Wintery weather begins to take hold. A good sized vegetable plot is one of the features in the back garden prepared and ready to be utilised starting with next Springs sowing and planting. With this in mind I spent a couple of weeks last month tidying up N1 plot before deciding to give it up just over a week ago. Due to the amount of work on the house and gardens this year my blog posts have been just about none existent. Over the past seven years I have enjoyed reading many other allotment/gardening blogs and meeting/talking to lots of other gardeners on the "net". I hope my blog has been of interest and some use too, to all who have spent their time looking in on it. Good luck and best wishes to all you love…

Rooko's April Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. Clear away spent flower heads from spring flowering bulbs such as hyacinth & daffs. Don't cut away or discard the foliage as it will replace the bulbs energy for its next flowering.

2. If the weather in your area has been dry enough lately and your soil is not wet and heavy, now is the time for some rotavating/digging, adding compost/manure as required to the soil.

3. Air temperatures are still relatively unpredictable in my neck of the woods at present, it may be worth checking the germination temperatures of various seeds before sowing takes place.

4. Easter weekend was the traditional time for getting your potato tubers into the ground. Don't put them into wet soil and remember Easter weekend is early this year so another couple of weeks wait isn't a problem.

5. More overnight frosts have been happening in this part of the country recently, compared to the past few years. So if you are sowing planting this month keep cloches or other plant protection equipment a…

It's Got To Be A First

This little skipper flew into my kitchen today (25th Feb 2016)





There's Always Tomorrow!!